Loud, in your face and edgy are all terms usually associated with The Flatliners, at least early on in their career. Now after spanning 15 years they are starting to mature a bit more with their sound and start to tone it down just a notch. Not in a bad way either, just in a different way than most fans are probably comfortable with. That being said, “Inviting Light” is more of an indie rock record for a new day than the old-school ska-punk that they were once associated with.
The Flatliners are from Ontario, Canada and can trace their roots all the way back to 2002. Back then they were reminiscent of some hardcore punk rock of the day. Their first studio album, “Destroy to Create” released in 2005, was the most ska-punk record in the band’s discography before they started to delve more into the punk side of things. After that they became known as a pretty intense outfit and every release after that was always up there with some of the top punk bands at the time. Now after four years since their last release we finally have the band’s fifth-studio album “Inviting Light.”
“Inviting Light” is a 12-track record that clocks in at around 42 minutes in length. The first thing you should get out of the way is that is different in sound that what longtime fans may be used to, while from front to back this is a great rock record that has anything you could want from it. It has emotional ballads, to more melodramatic numbers filled with angst. You need to understand that The Flatliners are no longer the angry kids they once were, this record is more of a reflection of them aging as a group together than anything else really, and as a result we get a lot of songs that are more about growing up than giving in. “Inviting Light” might be different, but it is still a great record for what it is.
Musically, we get a lot more blues elements within “Inviting Light.” The overall rhythm is slowed down; guitars are toned down and there is a slight twang in the overall sound. While this is nothing new in the rock genre, it is new for the band, and they manage to make it work well for them. Tracks like “Human Party Trick” and “Infinite Wisdom” are more anthems for growing old, and have melodies that are as catchy as they are memorable. Then tracks like “Sympathy Note” and “No Road” are the tracks that are bit more of the hybrid sound that are more classic for The Flatliners than anything else on this record. From front to back this record is built to represent the journey the band has been on and the overall structure represents that well. While it may be a new take on the punk-infused rock genre, you still hear elements throughout the entire record that are undeniably things that only The Flatliners can get away with. If you need a record that shows how punk can age gracefully, then this is that record.
Lyrically, this record has a few versatile moments in it. While nothing stands out as thought provoking or emotionally taxing, there are a few tracks that tackle the whole growing old subject in a much more real way. “Chameleon Skin” is one such song that is taking the whole relationship ballad to a different place. This is the one track that most people will probably have the easiest time connecting with. Besides that, tracks such as “Unconditional Love” and “Wedding Speech” are the two standout tracks from the record, taking the whole reflection element and running with it. While vocals are somewhere between scratchy and clean, it depends on the song and tone for how effective the delivery of each track is. The Flatliners manage to mix it up with vocals in a way most bands would not even attempt and they do it well.
Should you listen to it?: Absolutely!
If you are looking for a punk record, you should look elsewhere. If you are looking for an engaging and fun hybrid record for the modern age, then you found it. It is hard for a band to attempt something new and manage to do it well. That is exactly what The Flatliners did with “Inviting Light.” While it may not be what all their fans, especially the older ones, would want, this is the record that the band wanted to make. This is an exciting and fun record and it keeps you coming back again and again to listen to. “Inviting Light” is a great addition to the band’s discography and is worth checking out.